John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Boston, Massachusetts
The 115,000 square foot presidential library and museum sits in a 10-acre park overlooking the Atlantic Ocean to one side and the city of Boston the other. It consists of a nine-story, stark white, precast concrete tower, 125 feet high, which is contiguous to a glass-and-steel contemplation pavilion. The upper floors of the tower contain office, research, and document storage facilities. The lower floors house two elliptical-shaped 230-seat theaters, and an 18,000 square foot exhibition area. Designed by the fifth Pritzker Prize laureate I.M.Pei, the original building was completed in 1979. A waterfront addition for educational and cultural programming was completed in 1991 also by the firm.
Visitors descend into the exhibitions to learn of JFK’s life and administrations. From this darkened area, they are guided into the light filled space-framed glass pavilion. The space contains only a giant American flag. All the focus is on the impressive panoramic views to the sky, sea and distant horizons.
The simple yet bold form of the library’s stately structure rising at the end of the peninsula is characteristic of Pei’s buildings in dialogue with their settings. The JFK Presidential Library is a strong architectural presence representing both memorial and monument.